Evaluating Your Lighting Line-Up
EletricalTrends.com: Your Lighting Line-Up in a Changing World
Steve Schepps, our Vice President of Construction was interviewed about our recent decision to add Signify to our lighting lineup and what advice he would give to other distributors considering adding a new line and/or evaluating their current line cards.
You can read the full article on ElectricalTrends.com and an excerpt of the interview below:
Why A Change in The Lighting Line-Up?
Given that it’s a little unusual for a distributor to share that they added a line, and after talking to others in the marketplace, there seems to have been some “shuffling of line-ups / relationships” in the market (and we understand that the issue was not due to representation issues) so we reached out to Schaedler Yesco and asked “In considering lighting lines, what criteria did you use in reviewing various lines? What advice would you have for other distributors as they evaluate their linecard?”
Steve Shepps, VP of Construction for Schaedler Yesco and responsible for coordinating Schaedler Yesco’s lighting strategy in conjunction with sales, marketing, purchasing and finance, shared how they evaluate which lines to support. The criteria, in no order, include:
- Cultural fit with the distributor
- A desire to support manufacturers rather than “resellers”, while recognizing that value-oriented lines will trend more to resellers. For “top tier” lines want manufacturers.
- A demonstrable commitment to product innovation and R&D
- A preference for manufacturers that are with agencies that carry multiple lighting lines (to support a project) and, ideally, carry some supply-oriented lines. When asked “why”, Steve commented that agencies with supply lines are calling on their branches regularly so can support the branches on any discretionary needs. These types of firms typically have a strategic relationship with the distributor.
- Accurate manufacturer data. Schaedler Yesco believes in verifying manufacturer data and does its own photometric studies.
- Consider the correlation between performance vs price and the appropriateness of that correlation. Is it “top performing” or a value for their customers while delivering performance?
- Marketplace acceptance of the brand and how well it will be supported with marketing support for the distributor
- A desire to limit the number of competitive SKUs stocked, especially those at the same price point.
- The manufacturer must be, operationally, easy to do business with (or easier than other incumbents.)
- There must be appropriate back-end support (recognizing that Schaedler Yesco is an AD member.)
- Genuine executive support, commitment, and relationship with the manufacturer (as the power of relationships is still important.)
Schaedler Yesco wants a balance of brand names and “value-oriented brand names” to support, conceptually, a two-tier (or a multi-tier) pricing strategy. Steve is not a fan of carrying many “me-too” companies, especially in the fixture space.
The “whom” to align with is dependent upon a distributor’s strategy. Schaedler Yesco is self-sufficient in many areas and has a strong lighting group that can do everything from design to layout, from audits to order fulfillment and is known regionally for their lighting support. For this reason, they are a “desired” distributor and can support multiple top tier lighting lines while providing all of them with growth opportunities. Inevitably, there is enough business to go around and keep all content.
After a lengthy review, Schaedler felt it was time for a change based upon its criteria. Unfortunately, there is little that lasts forever.
The key, as a distributor, is to become a “desired” partner and, when you (a distributor) are in this role you should be asking prospective suppliers “what is your value proposition?” And existing suppliers should continuously remind their distributors, and expand upon, their value proposition.
Sometimes change is needed. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes it’s all about “fit”.